This sequel to the original Why I Stay (2011) is a similar attempt to reach out to Latter-day Saints who, for any of a variety of reasons, are struggling with questions of faith and to offer them reasons to stay in the Church. The essays in this volume come from twenty contributors who are, as editor Robert Rees describes them in his introduction, “Latter-day Saints whose discipleship is magnified from the edge of the inside of Mormonism, ‘with fear and trembling’ (Philip. 2:12), but also with even more love and faith” (x). Rees also says that these writers “are neither blindly nor blithely committed to the church, but are so with eyes and hearts wide open, aware of the issues that cause others to leave” (xi).
I found the essays in this second volume to be somewhat uneven in their appeal and in their relevance to my own particular situation, and this is likely intentional. Some of the essays did not speak to me at all, while others struck a sensitive chord in my heart. That is because my experiences with the Church, its members, and its theology are very much my own, and I recognize that the essays that did not appeal to me might touch someone whose experiences are far different from my own.
The essayists in this volume are Philip L. Barlow, Susan Hinckley, Kimberly Applewhite Teitter, Eric Samuelsen, Camilla Miner Smith, Charles Shirō Inouye, Russell M. Frandsen, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, Carol Lynn Pearson, Mitch Mayne, Emma Lou Thayne, Ronda Roberts-Callister, Dan Wotherspoon, Kathleen Cattani, Curt Bench, Jody England Hansen, Alan D. Eastman, Gloria Pak, H. Parker Blount, and editor Robert A. Rees.
One of the reasons Rees decided to publish a sequel is that “the landscape of Mormonism has changed dramatically since the first volume of Why I Stay was published in 2011, and that changed landscape introduces both urgency and complexity to the question of why people stay or don’t stay in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (vii). I found the result useful and insightful. In my own case, the essays by Philip Barlow, Eric Samuelsen, Kathleen Cattani, and Curt Bench echoed my own thoughts and feelings. But each essay offers valuable insights that will appeal to Church members who deal with different questions and issues than I do. All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with the question of why they should stay in the Church.